We tend to focus on the negatives when dealing with DISC styles opposite our own. Instead of focusing on what irritates us, how about re-framing and recognizing the positives those DISC profiles bring to our lives?
I think back to my first real job and my first boss. We started off awkwardly. I was inexperienced and nervous. She were a new business owner and stressed. We interacted politely and appropriately, but it didn’t feel comfortable. I wish we had the DISC tool to help us communicate!
Looking back, I realized we were both feeling pressured. We were not attempting to modify our behaviors. Our DISC profiles, life experiences, and attitudes were vastly different. I have since learned how pressure and strong emotions affect our ability to adapt and communicate. We didn't have the energy and focus to adjust because we were simply trying to manage the pressure and stress of the situation.
At times, I was so frustrated and ready to quit. Again, looking back we most likely didn't’ have the right skills to communicate well. If only I had the knowledge to modify my DISC profile and the ability to identify the DISC style of my boss. My boss was stressed from starting up her small video rental business. My excuse? I was only 16 years old and working my first job. We had friendly conversations, but overall, struggled on a daily basis.
However, I was so excited to have a job. I wanted to have fun, meet people, and earn money! I loved chatting with customers and recommending videos to watch. I even got to meet Eric Heiden, the Olympic speed skater when he came in to rent a video! I was all about the positives. I felt my boss focused only on the negatives and her the business bottom line. She made sure I followed all the rules and kept checking up on me. Every decision required her input or authority. I don’t think we outwardly clashed, but I felt treated more like a child than a responsible employee. I thought I was doing my best, but she didn't seem to appreciate my efforts.
Looking back, I focused only on the differences and irritating things about her. I was people-oriented and she was task-oriented. I felt she needed to control all aspects of the business while I just wanted to deliver great customer service. Now given an opportunity, I can reflect on the strengths she brought to the job and our relationship. I knew when I encountered a difficult customer my boss would back me up. She calmed my emotional self down and helped me look at the situation rationally. She was decisive when I couldn’t be. I felt reassured that she were figuratively and literally standing behind me.
It may take more time to identify the strengths in DISC styles, especially those who are opposite of our own. Initially, we may only see the behaviors of the DISC profile that irritates or challenges us. Now, I have the insight to recognize the behavioral strengths and contributions of my boss. I see how she took care of tasks that were draining for me and I preferred to avoid. We complemented each other. She actually made it easier to bring my own behavioral strengths to the job.
Of course we can't go back; only forward. Try identifying a person you find hard to communicate with. Instead of looking at the most challenging aspects of your interactions, try to focus on the strengths and contributions that person brings to you, your team, or your company. You may come away with a new and better perspective.
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